Monday, December 31, 2007

Stir up your cauldron

Wouldn't a nice butterbeer be the perfect thing to ring in the new year? Author Brian Mandabach has provided a multitude of butterbeer recipes on his blog. They include one for pyromaniacs (that has flames and everything), one that features a dose of butterscotch schnapps, a lovely non-alcoholic version appropriate for house elves (and kids) and an ice cold version. Check them out, they sound delicious.

Happy new year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Harry Potter: the Next Generation

J.K. Rowling has posted a handwritten family tree on her website with the full names of the children and spouses of introduced in the epilogue of Book 7.


My thoughts about what was revealed in the family tree:

Bill and Fleur have three kids? I can see that.

Charlie never got married? That's surprising. He seems like such a nice guy.

George married Angelina? Is it Angelina Johnson? Interesting, because Fred is the one who took Angelina to the Yule Ball. Their son is named Fred... which makes complete sense.

I don't recognize the woman Percy married. It's touching that he named his daughter after his mother- it shows that they really reconciled.

I don't recognize the woman Draco married. Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy- that's a rough name for a kid.

The names of Luna's kids seem appropriately dreamy and Shakespearean.

I love the middle names of Harry's kids:
James Sirius- it's lovely that Harry honored them both. What an appropriate name for that kid. He seems like a mix of James and Sirius.

Albus Severus: we already knew about from the epilogue, but I like that both Snape and Dumbledore are honored together.

Lily Luna: How nice that they named their daughter after Luna. That really shows the strength of Harry and Ginny's relationship with her.

I also love that Arthur and Molly are Harry's inlaws and that Hermione and Ron are Harry's sister and brother in law.

What do you think?

Looking for guest bloggers

Wizards Wireless is starting a new series of profiles highlighting wonderful independent bookstores and terrific libraries. I'm a big fan of both and I'm always looking for new ones to visit and to tell people about. If you have a favorite, and you're willing to write a guest post about it, I'd love to feature it on my blog.

Here's what I'm looking for:
  • Independent bookstores (locally owned) that either specialize in children's books or have large children's book sections.
  • Libraries with wonderful children's departments. It can either be a specific branch or a large system. It can be a new library, a remodeled library or one that's been around forever.
  • What do you like about the library or bookstore? What do they do well? What impresses you? Do you like their website? If you've been there several times, why do you keep coming back?
The libraries and bookstores can be located anywhere in the world, as long as they focus on children's books. They can be places you've visited once or places you go every week.

I have lots of bookstore resources posted on the sidebar and a long list of independent bookstores. For an example of a bookstore profile, here's one I just posted about Powells in Portland, Oregon.

If you'd be willing to write a guest post, you can e-mail me at

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bookstore profile: Powells

I recently had the pleasure of visiting one of the legendary independent bookstores in the United States: Powells in Portland, Oregon.

All I have to say is: Wow. Wow. Wow. What an amazing place. This may well be one of the most incredible bookstores I've ever been in. Powells covers a full city block and has four floors filled with books. There are rows and rows of books on every subject imaginable. It's easy to get lost here and never come out.

And the children's section (where I spent most of my time) is particularly extraordinary. For example, there was a whole section just dedicated to Newbery books. Practically every book that had every won the Newbery Medal or received a Newbery honor was sitting there, in the same place. Also, since Powells interfiles used books with new books, I was able to find out of print and rare editions of books I love.

As I was walking through Powells, I overheard a lot of people talking on their cell phones. But they weren't have long conversations... they were just trying to FIND each other because the place is so big. For example: "I'm in Row 628, where are you?" or "I'm in the Purple Room... I'll meet you in the Green Room."

I highly recommend their fantastic website, which provides the same services as Amazon. They offer deep discounts, fast shipping, excellent customer service, and customer reviews. It's really wonderful. Check it out and support an independent bookstore.

If you love books and you're ever in Portland... or on the west coast... or in the United States, Powells is well worth a visit.

Have you ever been to Powells? What did you think?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

For Better or For Worse: Update

There's a plot development over at For Better or For Worse today. Warning: this storyline contains a large degree of Liz and Anthony mushiness.

Two comments:
Doesn't Anthony look odd in the fourth panel?

Why do so many important scenes with Elizabeth seem to happen in the car?

January Carnival of Children's Literature: Book Awards edition

Wizards Wireless is proud to host the January Carnival of Children's Literature! What's a carnival? It's a group of blog posts on a specific theme. The theme of this month's carnival is: Children's Book Awards.

Your post can be about anything at all on the subject, but here are a couple of questions about awards to get you started:
  • What awards do you like the best?
  • What are your predictions for this year?
  • What are your favorite winners from previous years?
  • What books do you wish had won in years past?
  • Is there a lesser known award that you think should get more publicity?
  • Are there any awards that you'd like to change the rules for?
  • What award would you like to create?
For authors, illustrators, editors and publishers:
  • If you've had the experience of winning an award, what was it like?
  • What awards have your books won that have meant the most to you?
  • What award would you most like to win?
For those that have been on award committees:
  • What was the experience like? (just the parts you can tell us about, of course)
  • What did you enjoy? What were your favorite parts?
  • What did you like the least?
  • Would you do it again?
  • Which committee would you most like to serve on?
Feeling creative? Make up your own awards and chose a recipient. Come on, you know you want to.

There's no need to limit posts to national awards. They can be about student choice awards, state library association awards, awards given by publications, etc. Anything goes, as long as it applies to children's and young adult literature.

For an excellent listing of children's book awards, I highly recommend the Database of Award-Winning Children's Literature, compiled by librarian Lisa Bartle.

The finalists for the Cybils (Children's and YA Bloggers' Literary Awards) are being announced starting January 1. The American Library Awards (including the Newbery, the Caldecott and the first ever Odyssey, oh my) are being announced on January 14th.

The deadline for this carnival is on January 18 so that if you want to write about your reactions to this year's Cybils finalists or ALA award winners, you'll have plenty of time. The carnival will be posted on January 21. Posts don't have to be written in January... feel free to submit an older post if it's related to the theme.

To submit a post to the carnival (and I really hope you do, especially if it's your first carnival), go to Blog Carnival. Or e-mail your post to: wizardwireless [at] gmail [dot] com

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury

In the comments of this post about Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Anamaria of Books Together mentioned The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury: Celebrated Picture Books and Stories to Read Aloud, edited and compiled by Janet Schulman.

It's one of my favorite books. I can't believe I left it out of
my post about books to give to babies, because I give it as a baby gift all the time.

It's a compilation of picture books, which doesn't seem very extraordinary. After all, there are a lot of compilations. But what makes this one so special is the books that are included. Just about every classic picture book is in this book, including: Good Night Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, Curious George, Madeline, The Story of Ferdinand, The Snowy Day and Make Way for Ducklings. And the more recent books are in there too, like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and The Stinky Cheese Man. Plus, the book includes early readers like Frog and Toad and Amelia Bedelia, and books for babies such as Freight Train, and Ten, Nine, Eight. All together, there are forty four books in one (relatively small) volume. It's just terrific.

Why does this particular collection contain so many crown jewels of children's literature? Well, I have a theory about that... and it has to do with the editor. The name of the woman who put this book together is Janet Schulman. She's a giant in the children's publishing industry and was the Editor in Chief at Random House for a number of years. Plus, she was Dr. Seuss' last editor. I think that she had the muscle and the connections to pull a book like this together and to get the rights to all the classics in a way that no one else could. Or at least, that's my theory.

Now, if you check out the reviews on Amazon's page for this book, you'll find that lots of people love it, while others don't care for it. The main complaint is that the book compresses too much. And that's true. None of the text is abridged, but pictures are jammed in next to each other to conserve space. For example, the entire text and the illustrations of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day appear on two pages. That's it. Just two pages.

So, purists may not enjoy it. But, I think the book is great for other reasons and that's why I give it as a gift. It's a terrific resource to help parents remember classics from when they were little.... and to introduce them and their kids to new books they may not know. If there's a book you or your kids fall in love with, you can always purchase the original, un-edited version.

Also, it's wonderful to travel with. Think about it... you can pack forty four individual picture books, or just one book that contains them all. One more advantage to this book: it contains an age index. There are recommendations for all age levels, which makes it easy to select an appropriate story. And, there are terrific bios of all the authors and illustrators in the back of the book.

For more about the book and to see samples, head over to Random House's website about The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury.

And, if you're curious, here's a list of all the picture books (listed alphabetical by title) contained in this fantastic compilation:
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good,Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz
  • Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Fritz Siebel
  • Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Garth Williams
  • The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain
  • A Boy, a Dog and a Frog by Mercer Mayer
  • "The Cat Club" by Esther Averill
  • A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert
  • Curious George by H. A. Rey
  • D.W. the Picky Eater by Marc Brown
  • "The Elves in the Shelves" by Joan Aiken, illustrated by Jan Pienkowski
  • First Tomato by Rosemary Wells
  • Freight Train by Donald Crews
  • Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd
  • Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram
  • Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham
  • I Am a Bunny by Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scarry
  • I Hear, I See, and I Touch by Helen Oxenbury
  • "In Which Pooh Goes Visiting..." by A. A. Milne, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard
  • "The Letter" by Arnold Lobel
  • Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
  • Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
  • A Million Fish...More or Less by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Dena Schutzer
  • Millions of Cats by Wanda g
  • Miss Nelson Is Missing! by Harry Allard, illustrated by James Marshall
  • Owen by Kevin Henkes
  • Petunia by Roger Duvoisin
  • "The Sneetches" by Dr. Seuss
  • The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson
  • The Story of Little Babaji by Helen Bannerman, illustrated by Fred Marcellino
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
  • Stevie by John Steptoe
  • "The Stinky Cheese Man" by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith
  • The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff
  • Swimmy by Leo Lionni
  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
  • Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang
  • Titch by Pat Hutchins
  • The Tub People by Pam Conrad, illustrated by Richard Egielski
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Whose Mouse Are You? by Robert Kraus, illustrated by Jose Aruego

Go check it out. And give it a look the next time you need a book for a baby (or for yourself).

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

Wizards Wireless is proud to feature its very first guest review. This one comes from my dad, who listened in as a book was being read to his grandson, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think this is the first time my dad has ever given me his opinion about a book, so I felt the occasion was special enough to blog about it.

Here's his review of How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman:

This imaginative book shows children that if one door is closed, they can explore different options. It allows a kid to imagine what it would be like to travel the world. It lets them take a trip on an ocean liner, learn how to speak another language, see how cultures function around the world... all by gathering the necessary ingredients to make a pie. It has a tongue in cheek approach throughout the book, especially at the end.

I agree with my dad. This is a humorous, creative and beautifully illustrated picture book... and the end always makes me laugh. I'd recommend it for ages 3 and up. Give it a try if you don't know it.

Have a very Harry Christmas

I wish you a merry Christmas today.

And if you're a a Harry Potter fan:

Wizards Wireless is honoring the occasion by playing "A Cauldron Full of Hot Strong Love" by Celestina Warbeck all day.

Your presents will appear magically at the foot of your bed (I hope you don't receive any from Kreacher, Lavender Brown or the Dursleys.)

Mrs. Weasley knitted you a lovely sweater and baked you a dozen homemade pies.

Hagrid made you a big box of treacle fudge, which you should warm up in front of the fire before eating.

Don't eat chocolate cakes left in the Entrance Hall as they may be filled with a sleeping draft.

Dinner will be served in the Great Hall, and you don't have to sit next to Professor Trelawney unless you want to.

Make sure to pull a wizard cracker during dinner.

Remember that the mistletoe is probably full of knargles.

Don't forget to visit your relatives at St. Mungo's.

Be sure to leave a wreath of Christmas roses on your parents' graves.

You should feel free to pelt Percy with mashed potatoes if he shows up at your house uninvited.

Have a lovely day (and you earn ten points for Gryffindor if you recognized what Harry Potter book the title of this post comes from.)

Monday, December 24, 2007

What are your favorite Newbery books?

My children's literature professor in library school said: "If you learn only one thing from this class, let it be this: Newbery is spelled with one R."

I learned much more from the class than that. But I certainly did take away the fact that the Newbery Medal is named after the British publisher John Newbery, who spelled his last name with one R, not two. And since then, I cringe every time I see the Newberry Medal mentioned. Talking about the books that have won the Newbery Medal is far more interesting than learning how to spell it, but I couldn't resist slipping that in.

I just finished up a poll about favorite Caldecott books, so it's only natural that now I'm switching to favorite Newbery books. To find out more about the Newbery medal, click here. Here's a list of all the Newbery medalists, and here's a list of all the winners and honor books.

I just added an extremely lengthy poll to this blog... even longer than the Caldecott poll, because the Newbery has been around longer. What are your favorite books that won the Newbery Medal?

Here's mine:

  • 2007: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
  • 1999: Holes by Louis Sachar
  • 1984: Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
  • 1979: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  • 1978: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  • 1972: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
  • 1968: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  • 1949: King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
  • 1944: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

And here are my favorite Newbery honor books:

  • 2007: Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
  • 2007: Rules by Cynthia Lord
  • 2000: Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm
  • 1996: The Great Fire by Jim Murphy
  • 1982: Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
  • 1979: The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  • 1978: Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary
  • 1976: Dragonwings by Laurence Yep
  • 1973: Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel
  • 1953: Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
  • 1948: Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
  • 1944: These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • 1942: Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • 1941: The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • 1940: By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • 1939: Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard & Florence Atwater
  • 1938: On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • 1929: Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág

Please vote, I'd love to see your opinion. The results from my Caldecott poll were fascinating. You can pick as many of your favorite Newbery medal winners as you like (sorry, I didn't include honor books for sanity's sake.)

And if you learn only one thing from this post, let it be this: Newbery is spelled with one R.

J.K. Rowling podcast- Part Two

Here's the second part of the Leaky Cauldron's podcast with J.K. Rowling. Be sure to check it out.

There's more about it in this post. Here's the first part of the podcast, in case you missed it.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Poll results

Here are the results from a few recent polls I conducted.

Question: Amazon bought J.K. Rowling's limited edition book. What do you think?
  • 50%: I'm delighted that the book will now be shared instead of languishing in a safe deposit box.
  • 18%: I'm not sure why Amazon bought it.
  • 12%: I can't believe they paid FOUR million dollars.
  • 12%: Can I put it in my Amazon shopping cart?
  • 6%: I'm disappointed that anyone but me got it.
I completely agree with the 50% who said that they were delighted that the book will now be shared with the public. I think that's a wonderful thing.

J.K. Rowling said something very similar on her website. Here's her reaction to the sale of the book to Amazon.

Question: I read For Better or For Worse...
  • 31%: Every day. Online.
  • 15%: Every day. Sometimes online. Sometimes in the newspaper.
  • 15%: Occasionally.
  • 15%: I never read it.
  • 10%: Every day. In the newspaper.
  • 5%: About once a week.
  • 5%: If it's in front of me and I have nothing better to do.
  • 0%: I catch up with it every few weeks or so.
  • 0%: When the collections are published.
  • 0%: Only when the storylines interest me.
So, it seems that a large number of Wizards Wireless readers follow the For Better or For Worse comic strip. I'll have to keep posting about it.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Give credit where credit is due

One of my favorite books when I was growing up was Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. Recently, I've been reading the book with my son... and I have to say it's an incredible joy to watch him revel in the same story I love.

If you've read Burton's classic story (and chances are you have)... you may remember that Mary Anne (the steam shovel) gets stuck in the cellar and can't get out. I've always thought that the resolution to the problem is the most memorable aspect of the book.

Take a look at the paragraph where the idea is suggested by the (unnamed) little boy:

"Why couldn't we leave Mary Anne in the cellar and build the new town hall above her? Let her be the furnace for the new town hall* and let Mike Mulligan be the janitor. Then you wouldn't have to buy a new furnace, and we could pay Mike Mulligan for digging the cellar in just one day."

*Acknowledgments to Dickie Birkenbush.

Go check your copy, you'll see the asterisk. It's included in every edition of the book ever published.

Who is Dickie Birkenbush, you ask? When Burton was working on the book in 1938, she had literally written herself into a corner and didn't know how to get Mary Anne out of the Popperville town cellar. She shared her dilemma during dinner with family friends. Dick, then a child of twelve, suggested the ingenious solution of turning Mary Anne into a furnace.

In gratitude, Burton credited her young collaborator. What I think is so impressive about it, is that she did it right in the actual text, not in the acknowledgments. What an amazing way to say thank you and to give credit where it was due. (Unfortunately, she misspelled his name... the correct spelling is actually Berkenbush.)

So, in an age where plagiarism is rampant and and children's ideas aren't always taken seriously... I find what Virginia Lee Burton did to be inspiring.

To read more about Dick Berkenbush, now in his eighties, see this article from 2006 in the Boston Globe. There was also a great article about Virginia Lee Burton published in 2002 in School Library Journal. And, Houghton Mifflin, the publisher of Mike Mulligan, has a website dedicated to this classic book.

And if you haven't read Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel recently, go pick it up again. It's just as good as the first time you read it.

Friday, December 21, 2007

What's the best object from the Harry Potter books?

About a month ago, I wrote a post about several items based on the Harry Potter movies that are for sale from the Noble Collection.

Now that there are only a few shopping days left until Christmas, I've been thinking about those items again. What if you could receive an item from the Harry Potter world as a gift and it would function exactly the way it did in the books? The catch is that you could only choose one. Which would it be?

A magic wand?

The Sorcerer's Stone? (which would give you the Elixir of life, and unlimited money)

The Marauders Map? (if it was a map of your home, office, school, etc. )

The invisibility cloak? (which would come in handy if there was anyone you wanted to avoid)

The Mirror of Erised? (that you could use to see your heart's desire)

A coin from Dumbledore's Army? (that could pass messages)

Gryffindor's Sword? (that could destroy any unwanted item?)

A time turner? (which would come in handy)

A deluminator? (which turns out lights, and does the cool thing it does in book 7).

Or a foaming hot mug of butterbeer?

Or something else entirely?

Hmmmm... good question. What do you think? See the poll in the sidebar or leave a message in the comments.

Update: The poll results are here.

Poetry Friday: Book of Memories

It's my third Poetry Friday and third original poem in a row. This one is about my thoughts as I wrote my holiday cards this year. The Poetry Friday round-up is at AmoXcalli.

Book of Memories
Memories unfold
as I flip through the pages
of the well-worn book.

Since the last time
I looked there have been
new babies
new houses
new marriages.

I see each one vividly
as I turn the pages.

Usually I need a photo album
to conjure the images.

all it takes is my
address book.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Comic Strips: Speed Bump

As book award season approaches, I just had to share this hysterical comic strip. It's from Speed Bump by Dave Coverly, which is one of my favorite comics.

J.K. Rowling podcast

If you're a Harry Potter fan (and let's face it, if you're reading this blog, you probably are)... I highly recommend checking out the Leaky Cauldron's fabulous podcast with special guest J.K. Rowling. (And no, you don't need an Ipod to listen to it.)

As if the guest star wasn't enough, the show (and particularly the intro) is very, very funny. And J.K. Rowling discusses a number of burning issues, such as:

How Dumbledore's feelings about Grindelwald are relevant to the plot.

What "in essence divided" means in the 5th book when Dumbledore sees two divided snakes in the strange instrument in his office.

Why Harry experiences pain in his scar.

Why the Sorting Hat almost sorted Harry into Slytherin (I guessed correctly on this one!)

What James and Lily (and Neville's parents) did to thrice defy Voldemort.

J.K Rowling's opinions about Neville.

The confusing timing in the first chapter of Book One. If Hagrid rescued Harry from his parents house right after it was destroyed... then why did it take him 24 hours before he appeared at the Dursley's house? Jo talks about this a bit more and gives a very honest answer to the conundrum.

Did Ron, Harry and Hermione finish school?

Stay tuned for part two!

December Carnival of Children's Literature

Go check out the wonderful carnival Kelly Herold just posted at Big A little a. It's full of terrific suggestions about children's books to give as gifts.

The January carnival will be right here at Wizards Wireless with a focus on children's book awards.

Monday, December 17, 2007

For Better or For Worse hodgepodge

I've been posting fairly sparingly about comic strips on this blog... but it is one of the three primary subjects of Wizards Wireless, so I think it needs a mite more attention.

Let me start with a bit more focus on For Better or Worse.
  • It's a very popular and well-known strip drawn by Canadian author Lynn Johnston. It appears in roughly a gazillion newspapers and garners more attention and fans than most daily strips because the characters age and develop. Recently, the author has decided to stop aging the characters and run repeats of strips originally published decades ago.... see my previous posts about this comic strip.
  • I've been having a lovely discussion in the comments of this post about For Better or For Worse with Liz of A Chair, A Fire Place and A Tea Cozy. Liz said the following: "I have to say, I love finding another person who is obsessed with the FBFW soap opera!" Liz, I love it too. In fact, it's inspired me to post more about FBoFW and other developments in comic strips I follow.
  • Quick explanation of the acronyms: For Better or For Worse is abbreviated in a variety of ways... I typically use FBoFW. Others use FBFW. Lynn Johnston uses FBorFW, as evidenced that the strip's website is
  • And, here's my reaction to the FBoFW strip for Monday, December 17th: That's it? She just left the cliffhanger from last week? Now I've got to read about holiday baking when I'm dying to know about Anthony, Therese's, Elizabeth's and Francie's reactions? At least the strip is still in the present tense, though.
  • Out of curiosity, I've added a poll to the sidebar to see how many people who read this blog also read FBoFW or if it's just Liz and I.
  • If you are a regular reader of FBoFW (or however you wish to acronym it), what are your thoughts about the recent developments in the past two years or so?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Reminder for the December Carnival

Don't forget to submit a blog post to the December Carnival of Children's Literature. It's at Big A little a and the theme is gift books. Entries are due by tonight. If you've never done a carnival before, give this one a try. It's a great experience. See this post for more details and how to submit.

For an excellent example of a carnival, see the November Carnival at MotherReader.

The January Carnival will be held right here at Wizards Wireless! The theme is awards... more details to come.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What's the most popular Caldecott Medal book?

Based on my informal poll, the answer is definitely Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. It swept the field with The Snowy Day by Era Jack Keats in a slightly distant second place and The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg and Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey tied for third.

And that doesn't surprise me at all. I've aways considered Where the Wild Things Are to be one of the most famous and popular Caldecott medal books. It is interesting, though, that in the top three, the most recent book is from 1986. I was also surprised that Black and White, the multi-layered groundbreaking book by David Macaulay only got one vote.

Question: What are your favorite Caldecott Medal books?

1st place: 19 votes
1964: Where the Wild Things Are

2nd place: 15 votes
1963: The Snowy Day

3rd place: 12 votes each
1986: The Polar Express
1942: Make Way for Ducklings

4th place: 11 votes each
1996: Officer Buckle and Gloria
1943: The Little House

5th place: 10 votes
1970: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

6th place: 9 votes
2007: Flotsam

7th place: 7 votes each
2000: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
1985: Saint George and the Dragon
1982: Jumanji
1976: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears

8th place: 6 votes each
2005: Kitten's First Full Moon
2004: The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

9th place: 5 votes each
2006: The Hello, Goodbye Window
1998: Rapunzel
1988: Owl Moon

10th place: 4 votes each
2002: The Three Pigs
2001: So You Want to Be President?
1999: Snowflake Bentley
1954: Madeline's Rescue

11th place: 3 votes each
2003: My Friend Rabbit
1994: Grandfather's Journey
1993: Mirette on the High Wire
1992: Tuesday
1990: Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China
1989: Song and Dance Man
1971: A Story A Story
1968: Drummer Hoff
1944: Many Moons

12th place: 2 votes each
1995: Smoky Night
1987: Hey, Al
1981: Fables
1980: Ox-Cart Man
1958: Time of Wonder
1957: A Tree Is Nice
1956: Frog Went A-Courtin'

13th place: 1 vote each
1991: Black and White
1984: The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot
1974: Duffy and the Devil
1973: The Funny Little Woman
1972: One Fine Day
1962: Once a Mouse
1961: Baboushka and the Three Kings
1955: Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper
1950: Song of the Swallows
1949: The Big Snow
1948: White Snow, Bright Snow

Last place: 0 votes each
1997: Golem
1983: Shadow
1979: The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses
1978: Noah's Ark
1977: Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions
1975: Arrow to the Sun
1969: The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship
1967: Sam, Bangs & Moonshine
1966: Always Room for One More
1965: May I Bring a Friend?
1960: Nine Days to Christmas
1959: Chanticleer and the Fox
1953: The Biggest Bear
1952: Finders Keepers
1951: The Egg Tree
1947: The Little Island
1946: The Rooster Crows
1945: Prayer for a Child
1941: They Were Strong and Good
1940: Abraham Lincoln
1939: Mei Li
1938: Animals of the Bible, A Picture Book

Friday, December 14, 2007

Poetry Friday: Freedom

I'm celebrating the end of the semester here at Wizards Wireless with my second ever Poetry Friday post... and my second original poem in ten years! The Poetry Friday round-up today is at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Free from papers to write
Except for grocery lists.

Free from assigned books to read
Except for bedtime stories.

Free from homework to do
Except for work around my home.

Completely free.
Utterly free.

Until next semester.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

VERY limited edition J.K. Rowling book sold

As previously mentioned on this blog, J.K. Rowling hand wrote The Tales of Beedle the Bard (the fairytales that are mentioned in the 7th Harry Potter book). She wrote seven copies... six were given to friends and the seventh copy was auctioned at Southeby's in London to raise money for charity.

The auction was yesterday and the book sold for... wait for it... 1,950,000 British pounds. Which, at the current exchange rate converts into $3,979,933.51 American dollars. What the heck, I'll round that figure up to four million dollars. A bargain.. for an original unpublished book by J.K. Rowling.

Earlier reports, such as this one from Publisher's Weekly, announced that the winner was Hazlitt Gooden & Fox, a British art dealer. However, the art dealer was acting as an agent and the actual buyer was... wait for it again... Intriguing.

And, before you get all excited, no, you can't go add it to your Amazon shopping cart. But, according to the Leaky Cauldron and Amazon's message boards, the book will go on tour to schools so kids can see it for themselves, which I think is a fabulous idea. And, to see a bit more of the book yourself, check out the pictures at Amazon's new Beedle the Bard website.

Update: Amazon is posting reviews of the stories in the book! Check the Beedle the Bard website mentioned above to see the reviews (essentially detailed plot summaries) of all five fairy tales.

Further update: The book is now being published! It will be available for sale on December 4, 2008. See this post for more details.

For Better or For Worse... now it's getting interesting

After weeks of slogging through old For Better or For Worse comic strips from years past, it's a relief to have the action back in the present (at least for the moment). And Lynn Johnston certainly livened things up with today's strip. I can't wait to see where this storyline is going.

Update: Hmmm... didn't go quite where I expected, at least not yet. I thought there would be a confrontation between Therese and Elizabeth, not between Therese and Francie. I'll just have to wait and see. If you want to see the comic strips I'm referring to... Friday's is here and Saturday's is here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Children's literature electronic discussion groups

I want to share a few of my favorite electronic discussion groups but I'm not entirely sure what the right term for them is these days. I used to call them bulletin boards, and then newsgroups, and more recently I called them listservs... but I don't think any of these names are correct any more.

No matter what you call them, electronic discussion groups are wonderful resources. They focus on a particular topic... and all members of the group receive all the e-mails posted to the group.If you prefer, you can elect to read the posts in digest form, where all the posts of the day are combined into one e-mail.

Here are are some of the discussion groups about children's literature that I enjoy reading and have found particularly helpful. Click on the links for instructions about how to join each group.

CCBC-net: Cooperative Children's Book Center discussion group. This is a wonderful group that focuses on specific topics about children's books. The discussion changes every two weeks. Subscribers include librarians, teachers, editors and authors.

Child_lit: Children's Literature. This group talks about a wide variety of topics related to theory and criticism of children's books. Very informative and very interesting. Subscribers include children's literature professors, authors (including Philip Pullman, Jane Yolen and Julius Lester), teachers and librarians.

PUBYAC: Public Libraries serving Young Adults and Children. I highly recommend this group if you're a children's or young adult librarian at a public library, or if you're planning to be one. This group is full of practical recommendations, suggestions and advice. It's an excellent resource. Subscribers are primarily librarians.

Kidlitosphere: Kidlit bloggers. This is a newly created group for people who blog about children's literature. It's a great place to share advice and ask questions about blogging. If you write a blog about children's books, or are planning to start one, this list is just the place for you. Subscribers are primarily bloggers and include librarians, authors, teachers, parents, and many others. To cut down on spam, the Kidlitosphere moderators have asked bloggers not to post direct links to the group... so here's how to join: Go to Yahoo Groups and search for Kidlitosphere. Once you've been approved, add your blog to the directory and then join the discussion.

I find all of these groups to be invaluable places to learn and discuss with colleagues around the country, and around the world.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fictional schools

In the comments of this post, Jen Robinson mentioned a meme that went around a while ago, which asked what fictional schools you would like to attend. I'm not doing this as an actual meme since it already made the rounds, but I thought it was the perfect thing to write about today because it's my last day of class for the semester.

Fictional schools I would like to go to:
  • Hogwarts. Yeah, I know it's a shock. But it would be cool, wouldn't it?
  • Redmond College... the school that Anne (and Gilbert, Stella, Priscilla and Phil) attend in Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery. Now that I've been to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, I'm fairly certain that Redmond is based on Dalhousie University.
  • The Plumfield Estate School that Jo and Fritz run in Little Men by Louisa May Alcott.
Schools I would not like to attend:
  • The Catholic Academy in Salt Lake City that Tom attends in The Great Brain at the Academy by John D. Fitzgerald.
And, as an after school activity, I'd like to visit Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's house.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Seven things about everyone else

About a week ago, I did a meme (a list of information) called "seven things about me." (Wondering what a meme is? There's a good definition here). After revealing seven things about myself, I had to tag other blogs. Everyone has come through, so I wanted to share their wonderful posts with you.

I learned 7 things about Travis at 100 Scope Notes. My favorite on Travis' list is: "I have been told I could make a modest living as an Abe Lincoln impersonator. I wish I had a picture, but I don’t, so click here and kinda squint your eyes. That’s sort of what it looks like when I’ve got on the beard and stovepipe."

I learned 7 things about Lisa at Under the Covers. My favorite on Lisa's list is: "I’m a writer. Not yet published (not since various college rags, anyway), but working on it. I write middle grade and young adult novels, mostly realistic but also some near-future science fiction. I’ve wanted to be a published novelist since I was seven, so it’s been taking a while. But I’ll get there someday."

I learned 7 seven things about Jennifer at Art, Words, Life. My favorite on Jennifer's list is: "I think that all the answers to everything can be found in books. Which is why I keep reading."

I learned 7 things about Abby at Abby (the) Librarian. My favorite thing on Abby's list: "I love doing laundry. This stems from finally having a washer and dryer in my apartment after several years of having to trek laundry across a parking lot and use all my quarters to get it done. In fact, the washer is going right now. :)"

I learned 7 things about Laura at Library & Literary Miscellany. My favorite on Laura's list is: "I pride myself on my chocolate chip cookie baking skills (although my gingersnaps aren’t too shabby either)."

I learned 7 things about Susan (look in the comments for the meme) at Chicken Spaghetti which was a list about the Roald Dahl books she hopes to read in the next year. My favorite on Susan's list is: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I firmly believe can never be read enough times.

To learn seven things about Wizards Wireless, see this post.

Thanks to everyone who did this, it was a lot of fun. And thanks to Jennie at Biblio File who tagged me in the first place. Anyone got another meme?

Thank you

I just want to say a quick thank you to Jen at Jen Robinson's Book Page. She has mentioned Wizards Wireless multiple times in her Sunday Afternoon Visit posts since I met her at the Kidlitosphere conference. (See here, here, here and here.) Her comments have been invaluable and they have really helped me to develop my blog further.

So, thank you, Jen. And if you haven't checked out her blog, I highly urge you to do so. It's a wonderfully informative and thorough blog about children's books and literacy.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Poll results

The results are in for my poll about re-reading Harry Potter.

Question: I've read the Harry Potter books...

  • 30 %: I've read the series through about three to five times.
  • 20 %: So many times that I'm embarrassed to admit how high the number is.
  • 12 %: Twice. I read them once originally, and then a second time to prepare for Book 7.
  • 10 %: I’ve read my favorite books in the series several times each.
  • 10 %: One time each.
  • 7 %: I haven't finished the series.
  • 7 %: I haven't read the books.
It seems that the majority of Wizards Wireless readers have devoured (or slogged through) the books, not once, but several times. I'm glad to hear it! I think that the Harry Potter books are really designed to be re-read, so it's great that so many people have.

Be sure to vote in the poll for your favorite Caldecott winning books. Currently in the lead is Where the Wild Things Are. The Snowy Day is in second place. Officer Buckle and Gloria, The Polar Express and Make Way for Ducklings are all tied for third place.

Incidentally, it's amazing how many people have been voting. Each poll has been averaging about 45 votes!

Friday, December 7, 2007

J.K. Rowling answers questions about the 7th book

J.K. Rowling updated her website today and provided answers to a few frequently asked questions. See her diary, for a glimpse at what the last few months have been like for her. And take a look at the news section for an announcement about an upcoming documentary.

Look below the spoiler space for the questions she answered about Book 7.

I solemnly
I have

Was Dudley's son on Platform 9 3/4 waiting to go to Hogwarts? J.K. Rowling's answer is here.

What exactly happened when Voldemort used the Avada Kedavra curse on Harry in the forest? J.K. Rowling's answer is here.

What exactly was the mutilated baby-like creature Harry saw at King's Cross in Chapter 35 of Hallows? J.K. Rowling's answer is here.

I've been asked all three of these questions many times myself, so I can't imagine how many times she's heard them since the publication of the 7th book.

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is a tradition in the Kidlitosphere (the community of bloggers who write about children's literature). Every Friday, poems are posted at various blogs and one person writes a round-up where they link to all the poetry. This week, the round-up is at Becky's Book Reviews.

This is my first ever Poetry Friday post, because it's the first time I've had a poem to contribute. This poem came into my head on Wednesday while I was shoveling the driveway with my son at 7 pm. I haven't written a poem for ten years, so it feels good to write again.

A Good Mom
A good mom searches for the red snow pants
even though the blue ones fit
because red is his favorite color.

A good mom finds his boots
even though they are in the attic
because he wants to wear them.

A good mom lets him use the shovel
even though it's too big for him
because he wants to help.

A good mom gives him her gloves
even though it's her only pair
because his hands are cold.

A good mom plays in the snow at night
even though she should be working
because he wants to play with her.

Or, at least
that's what I did

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Harry Potter Grammy nomination

Jim Dale has been nominated for a Grammy for the audio recording of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The category is Best Spoken Word Album for Children (category 78 of a very long list).

I'm thrilled because I'm a huge fan of Jim Dale, but also because I think the audio book is particularly wonderful. I have the Harry Potter audio books memorized (Really, I do. I'm not kidding. Quiz me.) Deathly Hallows kicks it up an extra notch, and even surpassed Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (which I thought was the best until I heard #7.)

There are numerous times in the 7th book where the characters drink Polyjuice potion and transform into other people. Jim Dale manages to keep all these occurrences straight (something that gets quite confusing in the print version) by creating new voices for the Polyjuiced characters. Even better, he adds a bit of the original character's voice. For example, if Hermione was impersonating Bellatrix... the voice would sound both like Bellatrix AND Hermione. It's very impressive and very helpful.

Congratulations, Jim!

An Unlikely Story

I hate it when small, wonderful independent bookstores go out business. The Washington Post has a story today about the sudden closure of A Likely Story in Alexandria, Virginia. It was a fabulous place, and one of the few children's bookstores in the Washington D.C. area. I had heard a few weeks ago that the store might be going out of business but was quite sad to read that it actually had closed. This is a store I've been to several times, and it's the place where I had the epiphany that I should work in the children's book field.

There's a heartfelt letter to customers and the community on the store's website. Best of luck to the owner, Dinah Paul and the staff of A Likely Story. I'm sorry to see you go.

Every time I read a newspaper story about the closure of a small, beloved business, I have the same thought. Why can't these articles appear before the store is closed? After it's gone, there's not much anyone can do (except in the extraordinary case mentioned below). But if a store is struggling... an article in a publication like the Washington Post might give it a well needed boost, and may interest potential investors.

And, lest you think this is an unlikely pipe dream... look no further than Kepler's of Menlo Park, California. Kepler's actually did close for a month, and then 17 business owners stepped forward to form a new board of directors. The bookstore reopened in 2005 and is enjoying a new lease on life.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What are your favorite Caldecott Honor books?

In my post about Caldecott Medalists, Liz from By the Nightlight mentioned several wonderful honor books in the comments section of the post. There are so many terrific Caldecott honor books that I had to write a whole new post about them.

My favorite Caldecott Honor books are:

  • 2006: Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth
  • 2005: Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
  • 2005: The Red Book by Barbara Lehman
  • 2004: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
  • 2001: Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type illustrated by Betsy Lewin, written by Doreen Cronin
  • 2000: Sector 7 by David Wiesner
  • 1993: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, illustrated by Lane Smith; text: Jon Scieszka
  • 1989: Free Fall by David Wiesner
  • 1988: Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe
  • 1979: Freight Train by Donald Crews
  • 1976: Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola
  • 1971: Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
  • 1959: What Do You Say, Dear? illustrated by Maurice Sendak; written by Sesyle Joslin
  • 1951: If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss
  • 1948: Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
  • 1948: McElligot's Pool by Dr. Seuss
  • 1940: Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

By the way, I've been impressed at how many people have voted in my Caldecott poll so far.

The current leaders are The Polar Express and Where the Wild Things Are.

In second place are Flotsam, Officer Buckle and Gloria, The Snowy Day and Make Way for Ducklings.

And tied for third place are Tuesday, Hey, Al, Saint George and the Dragon, Jumanji, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.

Keep the votes coming!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Don't scare me like that, Garry Trudeau!

There was a cliffhanger in Monday's Doonesbury which was resolved (sort of) today.

Why do I love Doonesbury? See this post.

Only two more years to go!

My dream of going to Hogwarts will soon (relatively speaking) be a reality. The Leaky Cauldron just announced that construction has begun on the Harry Potter theme park. See construction photos at Jim Hill Media.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be located at Universal Orlando in Florida and currently has a scheduled opening date of late 2009 or early 2010. Be sure to check out the concept art in the gallery at the official website. Doesn't it look fabulous?

What are your favorite Caldecott books?

I've been thinking about the Caldecott Award lately. With a little over a month to go until this year's announcement, I've been pondering the books that have won in the past. With that in mind, I just added to the sidebar what may well be the longest blog poll ever. It asks what your favorite Caldecott medal winners are (multiple answers are allowed, of course). There are 70 possible choices, one for each book that has won since the first Caldecott was awarded in 1938.

I think these books have helped shape the body of American children's literature, whether we consciously realize it or not. It's an incredibly eye-opening experience to read each one... particularly some of the books that won decades ago, and to see how dramatically picture books have changed.

Wondering what the Caldecott Medal is? See the answer here. Here's a list of all the Caldecott Medalists, and here's a list of all the winners and honor books. And if this unbelievably lengthy poll works, I'll try the list of Newbery books next (which is even longer.)

This is a good place to mention that Leonard Marcus' fabulous book A Caldecott Celebration is being released in a brand new edition in February 2008. Marcus gives wonderful behind the scenes glimpses into seven Caldecott winning books and details the development process of each each one. The books he discusses are: Make Way for Ducklings, Cinderella, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Where the Wild Things Are, Jumanji, Tuesday and, just added for the new edition... The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. It's fascinating.

Are there Caldecott Medal winners that you love? Ones you've never heard of? Books that you just remembered when you read the list? Did you find a book that you didn't realize won the Caldecott?

Here are my personal favorite Caldecott winners:
  • 2007: Flotsam by David Wiesner
  • 2005: Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
  • 2004: The Man Who Walked Between the Towers
  • 2002: The Three Pigs by David Wiesner
  • 1996: Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
  • 1994: Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say
  • 1992: Tuesday by David Wiesner
  • 1991: Black and White by David Macaulay
  • 1990: Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young
  • 1986: The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
  • 1982: Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
  • 1968: Drummer Hoff illustrated by Ed Emberley; text: adapted by Barbara Emberley
  • 1964: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • 1963: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • 1955: Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper, illustrated by Marcia Brown; text: translated from Charles Perrault by Marcia Brown
  • 1954: Madeline's Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans
  • 1943: The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
  • 1942: Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
What are your favorite Caldecott winners or honor books? Tell me in the comments section or vote in the poll. Or do both!